Not Chosen

July 10, 2012 § 31 Comments

The one goeth to his neighbor because he seeketh himself, and the other because he would fain lose himself.  Your bad love to yourselves maketh solitude a prison to you.

Nietzsche

I am a child.  We are at a park and a group of boys are playing baseball.  My father commands me to go ask the boys if I may join them.  I do and they simply ignore me and carry on their game.

I am a young University professor at my first academic conference.  I seek to join a conversation but as I see the other academics glance at my nametag, there’s no mistaking the disinterest expressed in their body language.

I am sitting across from someone I love.  Without words, I can sense the distance between us- the discomfort that person feels being in my presence.

We each want to be chosen.  We need to be the one that others want.  When we are not the chosen one, we lament.  Why not me?

Looking for ourselves in the response of others is our great and terrible affliction.  It is just another way of giving others the power to determine our self-worth.   Just another passage to the inauthentic life that ceaselessly dogs us.

Do not seek yourself in others.  Do not seek to be chosen.  Choose.

It is your choices- not theirs- that embody who you are.

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§ 31 Responses to Not Chosen

  • I am stunned I must confess…, such wisdom, put in such an easy way. Will read more…. Thank you for sharing.

  • Susan Cooper/findingourwaynow.com says:

    Always seeking others approval (being chosen) is a trap. One that only we can release ourselves from. Sometimes the greatest gift may be not being chosen.

  • Robyn Lee says:

    ‘To look for ourselves in others’…. Tom – this says so much with so few words. It’s a wonderful insight and one we need to embrace in our own awareness or we will be forever blocked from knowing our true essence. It’s the ‘work’ as I know it. Many of us are very much products of programming – parental, societal, religious, academic, etc. Some of us are ‘pleasers’ by nature — and unconsciously look for validation from external sources. I truly believe once we can ‘let go’ of these contrived ‘needs’, we can tap into so much potential within our own spirt.
    Only then can we ‘seek to choose’ – rather than ‘be chosen’ – and only then will quite naturally attract the things we desire most… So appreciate your blog – and this post! Best ~ RL

  • LeBlogDuSpectateurSentimentale says:

    to be invisible is not so bad…sometimes.

  • jennlaurent says:

    Not being chosen is certainly a painful reality to face. Especially when it is by someone that you love. I like your response about it being in our power to choose, whether inward or outward focused. We can not control the choices of others but we can make our own choices in every moment. Which in and of itself than allows us to choose ourselves. Brilliant Tom!!

    • Thomas Ross says:

      Jennifer, it is painful sometimes but I try to see those moments now as opportunities, times that really call on me to “walk the walk” and embody my beliefs about strength and staying centered. That sometimes helps me.

      As always, thank you for your thoughtful engagement with my work.

  • Anitra says:

    Thomas, this is beautiful. I love how succinct it is. And how universal; I think most of us can connect to this experience. Fortunately, I’ve found that with age, the need to be accepted lessens. As I get older, I just don’t care as much what others think. It’s really quite liberating to reflect on how much less painful ‘rejection’ is now as opposed to when I was a child, a teenager, even a young adult. That’s my experience anyway. Thank you for sharing this. 🙂 Anitra

    • Thomas Ross says:

      Anitra, I appreciate very much your response to my work. I am trying to make every word count in my posts. And yes, age can help with this affliction although it never seems to go away. At least my struggle continues.

      Thanks for the read and the kind words.

  • And why do we do this? Like most everything else of negative consequence, I think it is rooted in fear. Somehow banish the fear, and EVERYTHING takes care of itself, and all the negative dissipates. The ongoing challenge then is to figure out how fear became so deeply embedded in us, so we can loosen its grip and let it go.

  • Julianna says:

    Wow – what a beautiful and opening post. And wow to live in this knowing each moment. I’ll add this to the “gold” on that side of my scale/balance, tipping me in that direction. Thanks for that!

    • Thomas Ross says:

      Julianna, yes, I did consciously put myself more into this post. It is a story of one of my great struggles- to not seek myself in others.

      Thanks again for taking the time to engage my work.

  • chrisbkm says:

    Powerful and thought provoking post. It’s certainly one thing to know and understand the truth in what you’re saying… quite another perhaps to overcome the inner draw. The gravitational pull to belong and be accepted. To arrive at a place where can gently let go, choose rather than need, that’s a worthy destination.

  • artyelf says:

    This is truly wonderful!
    (and quoting Nietzsche – well you won me right from the start!) ♡

  • So so good. For the longest time, I did this ceaselessly. Then I became aware of it. Now I still do it, but much less.
    My question is, you say “choose.” What are you saying we should choose here? Others? Or ourselves?

    • Thomas Ross says:

      Bethany, first, thanks for being such a faithful and thoughtful reader.

      “Choose” means simply that. Don’t drift, don’t fret about the past, don’t worry about what’s coming. Be present, ready, and open in each moment and act from that centered posture- as much as you can.

      Sometimes the choice will be outwardly focused, you choose to listen completely to the other person. Sometimes the choice will be inward, you choose the calm way. Just choose What comes, comes.

      Tom

  • and, of course, we sometimes misread the responses of others because or our own insecurities so best leave it all behind if we can

    • Thomas Ross says:

      Paula, yeah, I think we often get it wrong when we try to read the other’s response. A lot of pointless pain. “Leave it all behind” a great phrase. Tom

  • Gilly Gee says:

    We cannot find what we need in others if we can’t find it in ourselves.

  • smithdavid says:

    particularly relevant for me today! thanks tom…

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